Friday, May 15, 2009

To the Best Women Pilots in the World

  1. I can hear her downstairs, dialing the cell phone, introducing herself to whoever answers and then asking the all-important single question: "Do you know who the WASP were?" Every time, I strain to hear what might be happening on the other end of the phone, but all I hear is silence.

I've been fascinated, listening to my mother, the WASP, make friends and teach history--because that is exactly what she has been doing. Every conversation is much the same--and every young person she talks to (she says they all sound very young) answers her "Do you know who the WASP were" question the same way, first a pause, then a "No Mam, I don't." On Friday, she called ELEVEN Representatives offices. How many "No Mam's" did she get? ELEVEN!

That is a shame. The young men and women who volunteer as interns in the offices of the Representatives in Washington, D.C. are very bright, educated and responsible people. However, on this one subject, they were not taught. Why? Accomplishments of the WASP are NOT included in the history text books of our nation. You can read about the WAACS, the WAVES, the SPARS and even Rosie the Riviteer, but not the WASP. Why? Because, after they were disbanded on Dec. 20, 1944, their records were sealed --and archived until 1977. Historians who wrote the text books didn't know about the WASP and didn't have access to any of their records.

In 1944, General Hap Arnold laid a plaque in the wishing well at Avenger Field. The inscription was to be an inspiration to all the women who went through the Army Air Force pilot training program: "TO THE BEST WOMEN PILOTS IN THE WORLD." Nine months later, the General stood on the reviewing stand at the last graduation of WASP and said: "You have shown you can fly wingtip to wingtip with your brothers. We of the Army Air Force are proud of you. We will never forget our debt to you."

It is not too late. Our Representatives can help our nation keep Hap Arnold's promise. It is not about a medal. It is about doing the right thing. It is about standing up and saying "Thank you for your service." -- "Thank you -- what you did mattered to America."

I, for one, am standing up. I am determined to help my country's representatives do the right thing. WASP are not asking. WE ARE. We are, because it is the right thing to do.


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